Author Archives: joan

Ocean din is deafening to whales

And I thought New York was noisy. In my neighborhood, we’ve been subjected to high-decibel blasting and drilling for the past couple of years, while the city puts in a new subway line. But all that pales next to the noise pollution whales and dolphins … Continue reading

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Cellphone halfalogues are major stressors

It’s official. Overheard cellphone conversations score high on the distractability scale. And  one-sided “halfalogues” are more irritating that listening to two people talking live. OK, maybe you didn’t need a University of San Diego study to confirm what you already … Continue reading

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Ricky Gervais says no more lipstick on pigs

Niceness is breaking out all over. Bad-boy comedian Ricky Gervais has just launched Cruelty Free International, a global campaign to save animals from cosmetics testing. Not that animals are altogether immune from Gervais’s tart tongue: check out his children’s book series, Flanimals.

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To sail through security, put your grumpy on

Now you can add to the challenges of air travel a warning: Don’t be too nice. Frequent-flier Michael Indursky, owner of a spa business, couldn’t figure out why he kept being pulled out of the security line for an extra going … Continue reading

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How much nice is too much?

Did Reese Witherspoon, widely considered one of Hollywood’s nicest women, overdo it when she gushed over Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, widely considered one of England’s nicest royals? Here’s what Witherspoon, who met the Duchess at a charity event … Continue reading

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America’s rudest cities

Just when New Yorkers thought we’d finally ditched the “rudest people in America” tag, Travel & Leisure readers put us at the top of their 2012 America’s Rudest Cities list.  Some 40,000 survey participants can’t all be wrong, but it’s … Continue reading

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My old school

I’m not big on school reunions. Even informal get-togethers for alums who live in my area hold no allure. But on the spur of the moment, I decided to attend an informal meet-and-greet with Tony Featherston, the headmaster, and the … Continue reading

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Service with a smile

Tired of being caught in customer-service hell? Me too. But after suffering through endless encounters with the labyrinthine recorded messages, offshore call centers, and call-waiting hell that pass for customer service nowadays, I had a pleasant surprise. When I phoned … Continue reading

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